Updated April 1, 2019
It may start with simply feeling more tired than usual, some achiness, a runny nose or congestion. From there, things only get worse. No one wants to suffer through a cold or flu, and prevention can help reduce your chances of getting sick. If you do, correct treatment can lessen the length and severity of symptoms. Here are some straightforward tips for prevention and treatment! Be sure to contact your doctor to discuss what is right for you.
- When it comes to preventing the flu, the No. 1 thing you can do is get your annual flu shot before flu season is in full swing. Ask your doctor if the regular shot or stronger Fluzone High-Dose is right for you.
- Keep your immune system strong by eating plenty of whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grain. Make sure you’re getting adequate sleep and appropriate physical exercise as well.
- While germs are everywhere, there are certain places they’re especially prevalent. Wash your hands often, and take precautions, such as using the paper towel to open the public restroom door as you exit, or wiping the surface of things like the grocery store cart handle with antibacterial wipes.
- Is it a cold or the flu? Flu symptoms include fever, a cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, headache and/or body aches, chills, fatigue and nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.
- If you indeed have the flu, you can ask your doctor about prescription antiviral medications designed to make your symptoms more mild, help you recover more quickly and prevent complications. They are most effective when taken within the first two days of becoming ill.
- If you have the flu and experience difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, discoloration of the lips, pain or pressure in chest or abdomen, dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, seizures, or symptoms that subside but then return with fever and a more severe cough, seek emergency treatment.
When it comes to treating the cold and flu at home, mom did indeed know best. Here are some tested and approved tips to help you mend:
- Get plenty of fluids. Drink lots of water (small sips if you’re feeling nauseous). Soup is also great, as are electrolyte drinks and juices.
- Rest up and stay home. You need plenty of rest and sleep to mend, and it’s best not to go out (other than to see the doctor or pick up medications) to avoid spreading the germs to others.
- If you have a sore throat, gargle with salt.
- If you have chills, curl up with plenty of warm blankets. For a fever, try a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead, arms and legs.
- Use a humidifier to help make breathing easier.
- Ask your doctor what over-the-counter medications are best for you based on any health conditions and prescriptions you already take. Your doctor can also advise you about which, if any, vitamins or natural supplements may be beneficial.
While the drug store aisles can make cold and flu treatment seem daunting, in the end, tried-and-true methods, common sense and a bit of help from modern medicine make dealing with colds and the flu easier than ever.